Posts Tagged ‘2018 Book Club Picks’

October 2018 Must-Reads

Monday, November 5th, 2018

Check out this incredible list of 7 great books to add to your book stack. From historical fiction to dystopian, this list has you covered for your next night in!

Did we blink and head right into November? I apologize I’m a bit a late with this month’s reviews, but excited to share 7 incredible books I read in October with you.

I am hoping there are a few on this list that you haven’t tackled yet and these might be added to your book stacks this month.

I am happily chugging away at my GoodReads Challenge of reading 100 books this year. According to GoodReads, I’m just one book off pace, which I am hoping I will fix this month.

How are you guys doing on your goals?

My Usual Reminders

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there!

There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there!

In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club!

I can’t believe we have almost 1,900 bookworms in this group now. Each month we chat about a book, but the real beauty is getting to talk 24/7 about books with people who love them as much as you.

announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in November) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page.

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone?

Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

A Ladder to the Sky by John Boyne

For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code FRIENDSGIVING.

How it works: Members will pay $14.99 when they sign up for a subscription that will renew monthly.

They’ll also receive a credit for a free book at the time of this transaction (redeemable at any time). Then they’ll be renewed at the end of their second month (unless they cancel).

Here are 7 must-read books I tackled in October:

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The first book I read this month was, The Great Believers, after hearing that it would be a great selection for, A Little Life fans.  As you guys know, I am a huge fan of this book and even scored this amazing tee from a friend after we talked about our undying love for these characters.

Shortlisted for the National Book Award, this is a beautiful story of friendship during the height of the AIDS epidemic and offers similar themes of beautiful male friendships during the thick of a crisis in the gay community.

There are two intertwining stories being told in this story. Yale Tishman is a development director for an art gallery in Chicago and, as his career begins to really flourish, his friends are dying around him, one by one.

Meanwhile, thirty years later, Yale’s younger sister is in Paris desperately trying to reconnect with her daughter who has joined a cult. While staying in Paris with an old friend, she also is forced to deal with what AIDS has robbed of her and how it affected her relationship with her estranged daughter.

While many of us can never fully understand what the AIDS epidemic looked like during this time in history, particularly for gay men, Makkai does an incredible job bringing humanity and compassion to these devastating stories. The friendships that are weaved are beautiful and believable. I loved these characters and the gorgeous writing that Makkai brings to the table. She is definitely deserving of the National Book Award and I am so glad I got to read it this month.

If you are looking for something to fill your, A Little Life void, I highly recommend this touching read. It would be an excellent book for discussion for book clubs too!

5 out of 5 Stars

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

I can tell you now that, Fruit of the Drunken Tree, will be on my favorite reads of 2018. I was so swept away by the vivid storytelling and the poetic descriptive language in this book.

The author uses elements of her own life story (a discovery I made after reading the author’s notes at the end) to create this incredible coming-of-age story from two markedly different Columbian girls, growing up during the time that Pablo Escobar has captured the nation’s attention.

Chula & Cassandra are sisters that grow up in a more protected gated community, although they are still surrounded my unsafe elements outside of their neighborhood walls. They are well-cared for, adored by their mother, and given everything they need.

While Chula & Cassandra are carefree and curious, Petrona (who is around their same age) is folding under the burden of being the breadwinner for her family. She ends up finding a job, working as a live-in maid for Chula & Cassandra’s mother.  Living in their home is a true blessing since she has grown up in the guerrilla-occupied slums.

When Petrona meets her first love though, she finds herself in the middle of a horrible situation that threatens her safety, the safety of her family, and the safety of the family she is working for. This relationship really sets the plot in motion as you worry for each of these girls and their safety.

I am not sure why I’m not hearing more about this novel because it is a powerful and devastating read. While I have read a lot of historical fiction, this is an era and country that I have not read a lot about so it made the story even more impactful for me.

If you love a good coming-of-age story, I have a feeling you will really connect with this incredible read.

5 out of 5 Stars

Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon

Our story opens with eighty-four-year-old Florence who has fallen and is awaiting help in her room at the assisted living facility, where she resides.  She has kept many secrets that have been buried, but with her dementia, she is unable to always recall the exact details or why she feels a certain way about things.

Thankfully, her lifelong best friend, Elsie has retained her memory and is able to help Florence fill in those gaps where Florence needs it.

When a new resident arrives, Flo immediately becomes distressed, even though she can’t remember why. She is convinced that this man is there to punish her and has been doing things that make Flo look unstable. Flo is already on thin ice with the nursing home director and she can’t afford to look unfit because she will be shipped off to a facility for people who cannot care for themselves anymore.

Flo makes it her mission to try to remember just why this man’s presence is causing her so much distress and Elsie will be with her every step of the way.

Cannon does an incredible job showing the true struggle of dementia and  the beauty in having someone by our side who is able to fill in the gaps on our life.

Flo is an unreliable narrator and that unreliability makes the plot more interesting, especially as they go on a wild adventure to figure out more about this mystery man.

Be sure to have a tissue handy, this story is a beautiful one and worthy of being Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction this year.  It’s a gentle reminder of how we all would love to leave the world with our dignity intact.

Fans of, A Man Called Ove, are sure to love this sweet read.

4 out of 5 Stars

A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua

Debut novelists are my favorite and Vanessa Hua comes into the writing arena with, A River of Stars, like a seasoned pro.

It goes without saying, but if Celeste Ng puts her stamp of approval on it, I will be adding that book to my book stacks.

I have loved reading so many books about immigrants this year and Hua tells a gorgeous story of Scarlett Chen, a scared girl who has been taken far from her home in China.

Scarlett worked in a factory where she met and fell in love with the owner, Boss Yeung. When Boss discovers she is pregnant with his first son, he sends her away to America where she can be cared for by the top doctors and kept on the right diet and regime to insure he will have the healthy son he has always wanted.

Oh, and he needs her to leave too because he is already married with three daughters of his own.

Unfortunately, this place that Boss has sent her to is nothing like it had been described in the brochures. The conditions are horrible, the caretaker is evil, and Scarlett would do anything to escape.

In the end, that is exactly what she does, with a surprise stowaway in the back of the stolen van she hijacked.

What Scarlett doesn’t know is that Boss needs her baby in his life to fight a battle of his own. He will stop at nothing to find Scarlett and his child, because it means life or death for him. His unrelenting hunt for her terrifies Scarlett because she knows she will be punished for running away.

Scarlett will stop at nothing to keep them both safe and Boss will stop at nothing to make sure they are found.

This book is just INCREDIBLE and, again, you will see this one on my top ten list, FOR SURE. Hua’s writing has the rich qualities of Lisa See where she is able to see a story through with these characters from beginning to end.

She also told a story that I just did not want to end.

I really hope there is a sequel in the works because it is that good.

This novel is gripping and perfectly timed for understanding more of what it is like to be an immigrant. Hua dives deep in exploring the definition of home, family, and belonging.

Add this to your stack ASAP!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

I always love to read a spooky book for October and selected, The Hunger, for our October Book Club selection. This novel has been listed as one of NPR’s Top 100 Horror Novels and was endorsed heartily by Stephen King.

Many of us are familiar with The Donner Party and their infamous trek across the trails that ended in death.

Katsu decides to use this story as the framework for exploring this story deeper and adding a supernatural twist to it.

What if these people were actually being pursued by something that inevitably caused the death and destruction of these families? How would this change the story?

Katsu didn’t just put together a supernatural telling of this story, but she dived deep into reading as much as she could get her hands on to fill out this story with facts about this journey. These elements really help round out the story, along with some fictionalized motives and characters that make the story more interesting.

If you love a good dystopian theme, I have a feeling you will enjoy, The Hunger. Fans of darker suspense novels, like Bird Box, will really enjoy this story!

4 out of 5 Stars

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

A coming-of-age story combined with a murder mystery, Where the Crawdads Sing, has the framework for a book that anyone would love.

Kya Clark is a little girl who has found herself abandoned by her family and will do anything to keep anyone from finding out, knowing she would be taken from her home. Resourcefully, Kya finds ways to secure food and clothing, with help from a shop owner who takes mercy on her. Thanks to her love of nature, Kya never feels entirely abandoned because the animals and world around her make her feel like she is surrounded by friends.

As she grows up, her beauty and the mystery around her intrigues two local boys, that both make a way into her heart.

Years later though, one of those boys is found dead and the locals immediately suspect that Kya is the suspect. Known as the, “Marsh Girl,” no one in town likes or trusts her. How could they possibly trust her though because they don’t even know her?

The story goes back and forth through time as Kya goes from a frightened young girl to a more confident author to becoming the main suspect in a murder investigation. This story begs the question, can we ever escape our past?

If you are looking for an audiobook to enjoy this month, this one is BEAUTIFULLY narrated and should be savored. The writing is exquisite, the story is heartbreaking, and the characters are so well-developed that they lift off the pages.

Each year I get asked what book someone could confidently share for the holidays. I would put this book at the top of the list this year because it is one that I could hand to my mom, grandmother, or sister and know that they would be just as swept away as me. Buy this one in multiples for all the people you want to share a book with this year.

This book has had a lot of buzz already, thanks to being picked up by the Hello Sunshine book club, but I just had to add my stamp of approval too!  This is a buzz book that REALLY delivers and I think you will love it too.

5 out of 5 Stars

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I won a copy of this book in a GoodReads giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favorite authors and I was so psyched when I won a copy of her next novel, Daisy Jones & the Six (releasing March 5th, available for pre-order). I have to say, timing this book with catching, A Star is Born, this week really could not have been more perfect. Reid has crafted a fictional band story set in the 1970’s that was so beautifully rendered that you can’t believe it is even fiction.

Daisy is the girl that every girl wants to be. She is stunning and has the ability to capture any man’s attention, sneaking out to clubs when she is just a kid, and capturing the heart of anyone her heart desires. She finds she has a knack for singing, a knack that people spend years trying to train their voices to achieve.

The Six is lead by Billy Dunne and is also getting noticed in the music world. Billy is an addict who has just discovered that he is going to be a father and he feels he needs to sow his wild oats before settling down.

When Billy & Daisy cross paths, a producer realizes that putting these two voices together could be just the ticket to make them all successful.

Told in interview format, the reader uncovers the story of Daisy Jones & the Six from their humble beginnings to their explosive endings. It’s the stuff of legends, as all good rock and roll stories are.

As a reader, don’t be surprised if you don’t find yourself thinking of these people as real people. Reid is such a wildly talented writer that it should come as no surprise that this book is just as wildy fabulous as she is.

Be sure to pre-order and read this one before you see it!

5 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 Must-Reads

August 2018 Must-Reads

September 2018 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

September 2018 Must-Reads

Monday, October 1st, 2018

What have you been reading lately? I’m excited to hear what was in your stack this month and hoping you have a few good recommendations for October!

This month I squeezed in 7 great reads that I think you will enjoy and was excited, in particular, to share my thoughts on two buzz books that will hit store shelves tomorrow- A Spark of Light & The Dream Daughter.

You can scroll on down to read those reviews today!

I can’t tell you how much I am loving my Paperwhite this year. I am astounded at the battery life, love how much it is has helped with my eye strain, and have the best time loading it up with books from my library and those inexpensive Kindle steals.

Since it is so lightweight, I carry it around everywhere with me now!

In fact, this is the first month I don’t have a big stack of actual library books in our book bin to return.

What a time saver!

And, also…

WEIRD.

Let’s get chatting about this month’s books!

My Usual Reminders

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there!

There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there!

In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club!

I can’t believe we have almost 1,900 bookworms in this group now. Each month we chat about a book, but the real beauty is getting to talk 24/7 about books with people who love them as much as you.

announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in October) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page.

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone?

Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

join here

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s selections:

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way

Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton

In the Hurricane’s Eye by Nathaniel Philbrick

This month’s special:

New members will get a free book with code SUGARHIGH.

How it works: Members will pay $14.99 when they sign up for a subscription that will renew monthly.

They’ll also receive a credit for a free book at the time of this transaction (redeemable at any time). Then they’ll be renewed at the end of their second month (unless they cancel).

Here are 7 must-read books I tackled in September:

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

I received a copy of this novel from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

You know that magical question you get asked about who you would pick, living or dead, to share a dream dinner with? Serle decides to actually explore that in her charming novel, The Dinner List, laced with just the right amount of magical realism as she crafts a dream dinner for her main character.

If you are expecting a light read though, this one had a bit more weight to it than I had thought it would.

Sabrina arrives for her thirtieth birthday dinner and is greeted by her dream dinner attendees, all arranged by her best friend.  When we think of who would we ask to our table though, we rarely think of the dynamic that might happen between the guests and the tension that people from different sections of our past can bring with them.

Sabrina’s list includes several important people from her past…

Oh, and Audrey Hepburn.

I mean, why not?

We are talking about our dream dinner, right?

Through the alternating chapters, we really learn more about Sabrina’s love of her life, Tobias, and the struggles of staying together through the for better or worse of our relationships.

In particular, Serle does a great job exploring the resentment and difficulties that can be had when sacrifices must be made to stay together.

4 out of 5 Stars

Lies by T.M. Logan

I received a copy of this novel from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It was an honor to get to partner up with St. Martin’s Press to share about this fun new thriller this month. Be sure to check out that post (along with a delicious Candy Apple Martini to pair this one with)!

If you haven’t yet heard of T.M. Logan it is because he is making his debut this month with, “Lies.”

Logan is a seasoned writer who has worked as a national newspaper journalist.

This is why, perhaps, this book does not seem like a debut at all.

In this story, our lead character, Joe Lynch, is driving home from work with his young son. He happens to see his wife’s car ahead of him and decides to follow her and ends up witnessing a secret rendezvous with another man.

This encounter threatens to tear the two families apart and Joe finds that he is being set up for a murder that he never committed.

If you are a fan of Peter Swanson’s writing, I have a feeling you are going to absolutely love this thriller.

Logan expertly weaves the plot of this story so well that you will find yourself questioning just who is innocent and who is guilty.

Even more than that though, we all know that a satisfying thriller has a twisty conclusion that we don’t see coming and Logan not only keeps the reader on their toes throughout the story, but he also manages to add smart twists that even a seasoned thriller reader just won’t expect.

The author really goes to great lengths to help us explore the question, can we ever really trust those closest to us?

I absolutely loved this thriller and finished it in a single day.

4 out of 5 Stars

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult

I received an advanced reader of this novel from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Picoult’s latest is definitely one of those buzz books that many people have been looking forward to, including myself. I wanted to be sure to read this one early so I could share my thoughts with you on it!

In this novel, patients and staff are held hostage in an abortion clinic by a distraught gunman. As a hostage negotiator struggles to negotiate with this man, he later discovers that his daughter also happens to be one of the hostages. This situation becomes all-too-personal, but he refuses to allow anyone else to take the case over, especially after building trust and dialogue with the shooter.

As is her signature, the story is told through all the different viewpoints from someone who is protesting the clinic, someone who has just undergone an abortion, a doctor who performs the abortions, and a girl who just picked the wrong day to get birth control. With eight different viewpoints, the topic of pro-life and pro-choice is addressed from all different angles.

Picoult decides to tell this story in reverse chronological order which sometimes works (like this book, for example), but  can also sometimes create a bit of confusion and disconnection to characters for their readers. Since we open with the conclusion, I felt less vested in this story than I had hoped to be.

I  have no problem with the topics of pro-life or pro-choice, but in order to create a less biased slant on the topic, I felt a bit preached to, in certain sections, for Picoult to drive home that both sides have reasons for their viewpoints.

As we have come to expect with Picoult, she does weave a trademark twist, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the confusion and disconnection I had with these characters.

Even though this book was a miss, for me, I will still read anything Picoult serves up and hope to connect more with her next novel. Regardless, I appreciate and am always intrigued by her research when writing her novels and she did a lot of research, on both sides of the table, to create this story.

I can see how this one might spark a lively book club discussion though, but with such a hot button topic, you probably want to reserve it for a group that you can engage in that kind of dialogue with and still do life with later.

Curious who Picoult wishes would read this novel? You might appreciate her answer, especially after this month.

Although I find this topic a tired one, if you are looking for a fresh take on this controversial topic, I found this documentary a bit more compelling than this novel this month.

3 out of 5 Stars

Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce

Dear Mrs. Bird, is, truly, one of the most charming novels I’ve read in a long time.

Set in 1940, Emmeline Lake discovers a help wanted ad for a job with the newspaper in town and can’t believer her luck to secure a job as a reporter as she dreams of all the important stories she is going to be able to cover during the war.

When she arrives for her first day though, she realizes she is greatly mistaken about her war correspondent duties and discovers that her job is really just a typist and the person who must screen all of the letters that the advice columnist, Mrs. Henrietta Bird, receives, to be answered in a tired woman’s publication.

Mrs. Bird has a verrryyyy long list of topics she refuses to cover (referred to as UNPLEASANTNESS)  and Emmeline is required to tear these “racy” letters up into tiny pieces as soon as she realizes what unladylike topics are being asked of her.

Emmeline knows that these topics deserve responses though, although she feels too young and unqualified to always give the best responses.  She secretly begins responding to the letters under Mrs. Bird’s name and, as she becomes braver, she begins publishing  her responses too.

Emmeline quickly discovers why giving advice isn’t always what it is cracked up to be, especially as her own life begins to unravel and the consequences of war hit too close to home.

Pearce was inspired by real letter submissions from this era and topics that were explored in women’s publications around the time of World War II and, cleverly, crafted these elements into her own witty debut.

If you are a fan of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I just know you will adore this read too.

5 out of 5 Stars

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

I won a copy of this novel on GoodReads from the publishing house. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

If you haven’t read Diane Chamberlain before, you really must! She is, truly, one of the most gifted writers.

Time travel is MY JAM so I was REALLY excited to see that her newest historical fiction novel had a science fiction spin that would be focused on time travel.

Diane Chamberlain AND time travel?

SIGN.

ME.

UP.

Set in the 1960’s, Carly’s husband has passed away in the Vietnam War before she can even share with him the news that she is pregnant.

At her routine doctor’s visit, they discover that this baby has a heart condition that cannot be treated and that her baby will die.

It is when she gets this news that her brother-in-law, a gifted physicist, shares with her that there is actually a surgery that can be done, but this surgery won’t be available until 2001.

How could he know this?

Well, let’s just say that he has time traveled a bit…

With his help, Carly time travels so her child can be part of this experimental surgery. Nothing is guaranteed, but Carly will do anything to save her daughter.

Chamberlain creates such suspense with this story that I could not put it down. This could have quickly turned corny, given the time travel aspect, but she does it with such beauty and believability, even crafting strain on the relationships of those left behind.

I hate to pick favorites, since I have loved so many of her books, but this is definitely one of my top 5 from this author!

Fans of, The Time Traveler’s Wife, will really embrace this one and the clever plot twists that surprised even me!

5 out of 5 Stars

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I’m not much of a romance reader, but this one came highly recommended by our online book club so I thought I would give it a spin.

I’m SO glad I did because this was an absolutely adorable read! If you can get the audiobook of it, you really should. The narration was absolute perfection and my husband found me snickering around the house a few times while I was listening to it.  I tell you, these headphones and my fanny pack are the perfect combo for listening to great books while tackling stuff around the house.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Unfortunately, their publishing house merged and they now must work together as executive assistants to the two CEO’s of the company. Since they find each other intolerable, the two engage in passive aggressive behavior towards one another, playing mean games to pass their time.

Now up for the same promotion, the hating game has elevated…as has their frustrations with each other.

As the tension mounts, so does their attraction for one another.

The thing is, neither knows if it is still a game or if these feelings are real.

If you loved this novel, I have a feeling that you are going to be completely charmed by, The Hating Game.

Thorne really lays on the humor and creates great sexual tension in this fun debut. I giggled through so many of these two and their antics, making it the perfect little romantic comedy for any reader.

5 out of 5 Stars

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

YA isn’t for everyone, but sometimes you find that YA novel that really works for adults and for young adults. Far From the Tree is one of those kinds of books. Benway tackles the broad topic of what it means to be family through different adoption stories.

Grace was adopted and now finds herself pregnant and putting her own daughter up for adoption. After going through this heartbreaking experience, she decides that she wants to know more about her own adoption story.

It is when she begins to search for her own family  that she discovers she has both a sister AND a brother. Each of them have had very, very different upbringings and experiences with their families and Benway tells these stories with so much heart and beauty.

I don’t typically get very weepy in books, but each of these stories really pulled at my heartstrings. Grace giving her baby up for adoption and Joaquin’s struggles to find his forever family really made my heart hurt.

I loved this book and just know that you will too! I can’t wait to read more from this author!

4 out of 5 Stars

Read With Me This Year:

January 2018 Must-Reads

February 2018 Must-Reads

March 2018 Must-Reads

April 2018 Must-Reads

May 2018 Must-Reads

June 2018 Must-Reads

July 2018 Must-Reads

August 2018 Must-Reads

What did you read this month? Looking for book ideas? Check out our entire Book section of the site! Don’t forget to friend me on GoodReads! xo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though.

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February 2018 Must-Reads

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

february-2018-must-reads

Who is ready for some fresh reads for their book stacks? I’ve been a reading machine this month and I’m so excited to share some fresh picks with you that I’d love to recommend for your reading this month. In fact,  I have eight great books that I tackled and several 5-star reads that I am hoping will be winners with you too.

Did I mention how much I love sharing books with you guys?

It’s true!

February Book Stack

I haven’t done this before, but I thought it would be fun to see an actual visual of how many pages that I read this month. Sometimes I’m frustrated that I’m not reading faster than I am, but seeing this stack reminds me that sometimes it isn’t the volume of books I’m sharing, but the volume of pages that I’ve flipped for this monthly feature.

Check out that leaning tower of books, people!

My Usual Reminders

If you want to see more of what I am reading,  please feel free to friend me on GoodReads! You can find me right here and I am always happy to connect with people there! There is nothing more motivating than seeing what other people are raving about and my to-be-read pile continues to grow with all of my new friends on there!

In fact, many of the books featured are ones that I have found through my friends on GoodReads.

Looking to add some variety to your stack? Feel free to join our book club! I can’t believe we have over 1,500 bookworms in this group. Our discussion this month was AMAZING and it is so much fun to have so many participating (and enjoying) the books that I selected to share. I announced our selections (here is what we will be reading in February) and you can find them pinned at the top of the group page. These will be added in a blog entry for January, but book club participants get the list a little earlier. It’s just one more perk to enjoy with this free club!

Need another challenge to push you out of your reading comfort zone? Be sure to download this year’s Reading Challenge Worksheet.

Before we chat about books, this month’s Book of the Month selections are AWESOME this month and I have to share about them with you!

March BOTM

The Book of Month Club Selections Are Out!!

This month’s special: Use code YESPLZ to get your first month free! (new members only!)

March Selections:

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Here are 8 must-read books I tackled in February:

Self-Portrait With Boy

Self-Portrait With Boy by Rachel Lyon

Looking for a thriller with a plot that you probably have never considered? Self-Portrait With Boy is one of the most inventive plot concepts that I’ve read in a long time and absolutely captivated me. This novel is about a struggling photographer who lives in an artist loft where she has been working on a personal photography project taking a daily self-portrait.

A little boy, in the apartment above her’s, tragically falls to his death and Lu happens to be taking an image of herself when the tragedy occurs. Upon development, she sees that it is one of the most beautiful images she has ever taken and has to grapple with the decision to let this work be seen.

As the tenants grow closer together following the tragedy, she finds herself entangled in a friendship with the mother and must decide if she is going to share the image of her son with the world.

Adding to the deep moral dilemma, she is barely making ends meet and her father has to undergo a pricey surgery. It isn’t just about the fame, it’s about survival.  This image could help her become known in her field, but at what cost?

I listened to this one on audiobook in a single day, and had to know what was going to happen with this photo. I don’t want to say more- it’s really awesome.  This book would lend itself well to a book club discussion.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Lucky Boy

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaram

I also have to lead with this month’s MomAdvice Book Club pick because it was so darn good. What I heard frequently from our book club members was that this was a book that they would have not picked up on their own and that it ended up being a favorite this month. The best part, for me, was also hearing that it changed people’s viewpoints and made them more empathetic to refugees and immigrants that have come to America.

This story is about two women- one who is in her teens and coming to the states illegally and the other who is living the American dream version of the immigrant story in Berkley. When Soli, our teen narrator, becomes pregnant on her perilous journey to the states, she decides to keep her son and do her best to juggle her job as a housekeeper and care for her child.

The other woman is struggling with infertility and would do anything to have a child.

When Soli’s little boy enters her life, she must do everything she can to keep him in it.

Our “lucky” boy is loved fiercely by two women and both will stop at nothing to keep him in their lives.

I honestly couldn’t turn the pages fast enough on this one. It made for a FANTASTIC and timely book club discussion from fertility to the immigrant struggle to the unstoppable love of motherhood. I can’t recommend this read enough!

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Are You Sleeping?

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Serial fans will LOVE this fantastic debut novel that explores a fictional murder and a podcast that decides to reopen a thirteen-year-old murder case. If you are looking for a fun book to enjoy on audiobook, I HIGHLY recommend it since it reads as part novel and part podcast.

Josie has started a new life in New York and hasn’t even shared her real past with her partner. It is only when her mother dies that she has to confront her demons and one person is determined to leave no stone unturned.  An investigative reporter has decided Josie’s father’s murder is worth exploring in her podcast and her family’s old secrets are exposed, forcing Josie to deal with her past and her estranged twin sister.

I really enjoyed this one and thought the pacing was so great. It also gives you food for thought on our own obsessions with true crime and what that might be like for a family who has become the topic of exploration.

True crime, a podcast, and a twisty thriller are all rolled into one satisfying read.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Spoonbenders

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Looking for a book that is unlike any other you’ve read? Spoonbenders was a highly imaginative exploration of a family that all have special powers that have been celebrated publicly.

Known as the Amazing Telemachus Family, each family member has a special skill from moving objects with their mind, the ability to predict the future, a human lie detector…and a con man who has the sleight of hand ability being used by the CIA.

Decades later this family is not so amazing. In fact, if you are an Arrested Development fan, you just might recognize some of the quirks of these family members. When one family member owes a large sum of money to the mob, this magical family must come together to save their family member and they discover more about each other in the process.

I love magical realism and really enjoyed this read. It had a bit of a lag towards the end and might have benefited from a bit of trimming, but overall it was one that I looked forward to reading. Several laugh-out-loud moments happen in this one that made it a welcome escape.

If magical realism or dysfunctional family stories are your thing, this might be a winner in your book stack too.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Wife Between Us

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Looking for a twisty thriller for your book stack? I have a feeling that you will really enjoy, The Wife Between Us. This is the type of book that keeps you on your toes as the plot takes you down many different rabbit trails only to realize it isn’t what you had thought all along.

Nellie thought she had the perfect marriage with Richard until she didn’t. Down on her luck and struggling financially to keep up, she discovers that Richard is engaged to be married again, really shortly after the end of her own marriage. Nellie becomes obsessed with this woman and talking with her and the reader is left guessing from start to finish just why it is so important that Nellie connect with his new wife.

Everything is not as it is seems, as all good thrillers should be, and this one had surprise after surprise. This dynamic writing duo really pulled together a fantastic 24-hour escape that you won’t be able to put down.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

An American Marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage was selected as Oprah’s Book Club Pick and has been THE buzz book this month. I snagged it through Book of the Month, but I ended up listening to this one instead.

This book tells the story of a man who is wrongfully incarcerated and how this couple does their best to continue to keep their marriage alive. A love triangle ensues, between the husband, wife and her childhood friend. It all comes to a shattering halt when Roy, the husband, gets out early from his twelve year sentence and their marriage is completely in question.

You do sympathize with the characters and wonder what you would do if put in this place. Roy feels like he has to pay for something he didn’t do and then pay for it again. Celestial, the wife, also grows up and evolves into a different person. It’s a difficult circumstance that would be a great one to discuss in your book club.

I will say, I was looking for a bit more depth on this one, particularly with the wrongful arrest and I can’t say that I actually had a deep connection with any of the characters.

I would say if you plan to read this one, the narration was beautifully done through the audiobook and it helped me to connect more with the letters that are written back and forth from the prison.

As with all buzz books, I’m not sure I embraced the hype, but I certainly enjoyed the story.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

The Woman in the Window

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Fans of Hitchcock are sure to love this amazing thriller that had me on a whodunit guessing spree up until the final pages. The main character is an alcoholic pill-popper who used to be a psychologist and now is estranged from her family. Since she is unable to leave her home, she makes a habit of spying on her neighbors and happens to witness the good ol’ neighbor lady being stabbed.

When the cops show up, after her frantic 9-1-1 call, they say that she is alive. To prove it, she walks in to show herself…and she is not herself at all. In fact, she is an entirely different woman. Now this unreliable narrator must figure out where the real Mrs. Russell is.

I don’t want to say too much about this one because half the fun is all the twists that the author has woven in.

Despite the long length, I was able to polish this one off in a couple of days and found it to be a satisfying and surprising ending.

If you prefer your thrillers with a great mystery woven in, you are sure to love this one! Finn also weaves in a lot of old movies that just might have you planning a movie night at home.

5 Out Of 5 Stars

The Great Alone

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

I really loved The Nightingale and had really been hoping Kristin Hannah would tackle another historical fiction book, but this contemporary coming-of-age story ended up being sweetly satisfying for a winter escape.

This story is set in the seventies and is about a former POW father who comes home from the Vietnam War completely changed. His behavior and decision-making is wildly erratic and when a property becomes available in rural Alaska, he decides that they should seize the opportunity to live off the grid and make a different life for themselves.

Braving harrowing and life-threatening conditions is what is all about and thirteen-year-old Leni is caught in the middle of it all as they attempt to carve a new life in the wild frontier.

Living off the grid is not all it is cracked up to be and neither is surviving the difficult Alaska winters.

I really loved this read until the ending which took on a Lifetime movie quality. I tried to not let that overshadow my enjoyment of the rest of the story because braving the wilderness is tough and Hannah writes so eloquently about this impossible marriage and the honest struggle of a Vietnam veteran.

4 Out Of 5 Stars

february-2018-must-reads

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